As a digital marketer or growth hacker you will need to stay up to speed with pretty much everything online marketing related. As much as reading will develop certain knowledge, getting hands on with tooling always feels better than just reading about. It does not hurt either that tooling is becoming more and more important, and having access to certain tooling can be a huge advantage to your career or your business.
Determining what the best online marketing tools are can be tricky in a world that is loaded with startups focussing on solving marketers problems. Therefore, we have tried to make a summary of tools we love to use to get the best online marketing results. These are hands-on tools that are quite easy to use and accessible. Extensive enterprise software such as SalesForce and Googles Doubleclick require a deepdive and specialisation on their own, and are not mentioned in the article.
BuzzSumo (content marketing)
Find the content that’s working in your niche.
BuzzSumo, founded by MOZ SEO all-star Rand Fishkin, is an amazing tool to discover popular content. If you are looking for content-ideas in your niche, look no further (no, we’re not being sponsored to write this).
Within BuzzSumo, you can analyze websites and find their best working content-pieces. “Best working” is based on engagement ratings: shares, backlinks and “evergreen score” – meaning lifetime value of a content piece. Another interesting addition BuzzSumo uses to calculate the value of a piece is Reddit engagement, which is often an underestimated community in my opinion.
If you look at NicheHunt, you can see following articles that did quite well:
Besides working targeting your competition directly to find out what they’re doing, you can also submit a generic topic and see what the most popular pieces are.
If you or your team is looking for content-inspiration and need to see what works, BuzzSumo really can give great and quick insights. In addition to finding the best content pieces, there are many more functions BuzzSumo offers like finding influencers and analyzing your own content, but we have not been able to test that properly.
Pricing is ok, there is a “freelancer”-subscription that goes for $29.99 if you work alone.
Answer The Public (content marketing)
Find out real questions people are asking Google.
This is a real hidden gem, and one of our personal favorites. Answer The Public is not only a visual fest, it really gives great insights in what people look for when it comes to a specific subject.
Unlike Googles Keyword Planner, Answer The Public does not show any keyword-volume, but all questions people asked Google surrounding a subject of choice. Real questions, as Answer The Public scrapes the suggestions boxes of Google.
Why is this so helpful? First of all, if you are doing a presentation and you want to show why it is important to invest in content-production, Answer The Public does a great visualisation of search-behaviour. Secondly, it gives you direct input on how to become an authority on a specific subject by answering the questions shown.
And it is free.
Taboola Trends (content marketing / native advertising)
Get free insights in what’s trending at Taboola.
Having a hard time finding the right image and title for your blogpost you just worked on all day? Taboola might be able to help. Taboola is a native-advertiser, but also collects data from their advertisers to see what type of content generates the most clicks. This means you can get free insights in their best performing image-trends and keyword-trends.
Taboola Trends is free.
Advault (content marketing / native advertising)
Spy on your competitions advertising efforts.
Advault goes a big step beyond what Taboola Trends does. It’s a tool that collects data on native ads, or as they call it “native ads spy tool”. Using Advault, you can find top advertisements, keywords and advertisers so you can get inspired by what works in native advertising. If you rely on arbitrage, this tool is the one for you.
Advault pricing starts at $179 a month, but you can try it for three days at $1.
Buffer (social media management)
Social media management, scheduling and analytics.
Looking for an easier way to manage your social media marketing? Buffer makes it simple to schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage all your accounts in one place. Buffer is not only able to manage your social media accounts, it also analyses and optimizes your content-sharing. Hootsuite is an alternative to buffer, but we prefer Buffer. By the way: Read this if you’re looking for influencer marketing tools.
Buffer has a limited free version, paid plans start at $15.
Screaming Frog (SEO)
Crawl your website like Google.
Always wanted to know how Google crawls your website? Or lost sight of how many pages, blogs and products there are on your platform? Screaming Frog does it.
Now this a tool any respectable SEO probably already knows, but can be great for any digital marketeer as well. Screaming Frog is “.. a desktop website auditor for PC, Mac or Linux which crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps like a search engine to evaluate onsite SEO”. In other words: Screaming Frog imitates a bot that crawls a website, and this can generate very useful insights.
Screaming Frog can be easily used to find duplicate content, analyse and provide an overview of currently used meta-data and generate sitemaps. If you’re having redirect problems, Screaming Frog will find them. If you’re having indexation problems, Screaming Frog will probably show you what’s going on. Besides all this, Screaming Frog can also be used in more advanced matter as a web scraper, extracting custom data-points – a feature we love Screaming Frog for.
There’s a free version of Screaming Frog available that is limited to 500 pages to crawl, and a yearly license goes for $179.
MailChimp (email marketing)
Email marketing made simple.
The absolute king of email-marketing. MailChimp is a name any digital marketer encountered at least once in their career. MailChimp makes building email lists easy and offers many third party integrations. Besides building and creating email campaigns, MailChimp also offers the option to segment your lists and build different funnels for these segments with their marketing automation tooling.
MailChimp has a free product available, and depending on the growth of your list and activities pricing starts at $10 a month.
Vero (email marketing)
Event-based email marketing.
Even though Vero offers similar features as MailChimp, this tool is mainly focused on event-based triggers to send out emails. Let’s say you have an e-com shop and someone abandons your cart – Vero can be set up to automatically send out an email to the person who abandoned the cart. This is a very basic example of email automation implementation, but nonetheless a very useful one.
Vero pricing starts at $100 a month.
Optimizely makes A/B-testing really easy. There are many alternatives to the tool like Visual Website Optimizer and Google Optimize, but we are quite fond of Optimizely.
Within Optimizely, you can make front-end variants of your current pages without changing any code. This makes it extremely easy to work with.
There is a 30-day free trial available, and plans start at $17 a month. Google Optimize is free to use and offers similar functionality – we’d suggest to try them both out and see what fits best for your needs.
Slack (team communication)
Talk to your team without hassle.
Remember IRC? With those crappy chat-clients that let you choose your own text as you entered a chatroom? Well, that’s Slack 0.1.
Slack is a free tool to stay connected to your team or other people, let’s you exchange files and notes and set up different #topics within your channel.
Consumer Barometer (consumer behaviour)
Gain insights in how people use the internet.
Consumer Barometer is a Google product and gives great insights into user behaviour. Or, as Google states: “The Consumer Barometer is a tool to help you understand how people use the Internet across the world.”
If you want to know how people in the US make their decision before buying something online, the Consumer Barometer can help you out. It’s a very well designed and working tool that can really help you setting up sales funnels or detecting problems with your current funnel setup. It’s not a tool to monitor current events, you can use Google Trends if you need to find out what trending topics are around the world.
Consumer Barometer is a free tool.
Visualise your visitors movements.
Hotjar makes heatmaps. It’s simple as that. Want to know how users behave once they land on your website? Hotjar shows you. And from those data insights, you can start optimizing. With Hotjar you can understand what users want and do on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior, which are the strongest indicators of visitor motivation and desire, says Hotjar. CrazyEgg is a similar product with a 30-day free trial, if you want to test out what fits best for you.
There’s a free version available that is limited to 2,000 pageviews a day. Other packages start at $29 a month.
HubSpot (marketing automation)
The best inbound marketing tool available.
HubSpot is an inbound marketing tool that connects throughout the whole funnel. This means you can manage all your marketing activities at HubSpot. From analytics, landing pages, automated email marketing and so on. What we really love about HubSpot is the amount of information it provides on various topics, making it easy to become an expert.
HubSpot plans are quite pricey, but there is a free version available for you to try. The Marketing Hub-plan starts at $200. It’s not cheap, but offers a full package solution.
IFTTT (marketing automation)
If this then that automates workflows.
Another personal favorite: IFTTT is able to let tools communicate with each other. It is a way to get all your apps and devices talking to each other. If you ever looked at any programming language, “if this then that” makes sense right away. If you have not: Let’s say you want all beautiful produced videos you post on Instagram automatically shared on all your other different social channels; IFTTT can automatically do this by setting it up one time. And it looks pretty good too.
IFTTT is free.